I worked alongside a clinical psychologist at a local health board

Emma_Dickinson_MSc Clinical and Abnormal Psychology

Since graduating from the MSc Clinical and Abnormal Psychology in 2013, Emma has been working as a Research Officer for the Office For National Statistics.  Emma won the prize for outstanding dissertation in 2013 for her dissertation about emotional regulation and eating disorders. 

"After completing my undergraduate degree in Psychology, I knew that the area of psychology which interested me most was clinical. I wasn’t sure of exactly what career I was aiming for so wanted to undertake a postgraduate course which was varied but which also gave me a good understanding and background in clinical psychology.

I wanted to be part of a relatively small cohort, taught by lecturers who were experienced and enthusiastic.

I came to USW because it offered the MSc Clinical Psychology, and this is a relatively rare course in the UK! However, I was also motivated by the course outline which sounded interesting and challenging. In addition, when I met some of the lecturers they were passionate and motivating, having a real interest in the topic as well as in their current students.

I was also told that there might be an opportunity to work with local health trusts when completing the dissertation module, a factor which would not only look great on my CV but which I knew I would also find really interesting.

I worked alongside a clinical psychologist at a local health board whilst completing part of my dissertation. 

This was extremely useful to me, not only because it improved my dissertation, but because I gained first-hand knowledge about what a clinical psychologist actually does on a day to day basis, and the highs and lows associated with the position. The clinical psychologist also gave me extremely useful information about the qualifying process and what to expect whilst trying to progress in the field.

The most valuable thing I learned on the course was the ability to search for research and analyse this in a critical manner. This is so important in any research field! In addition, a wide knowledge of statistical techniques allowed me to confidently analyse data in a variety of ways.

The aspect of the course which I most enjoyed was undertaking my dissertation. It was fantastic to become an expert in something which already interested me. Being able to work with a clinical psychologist was brilliant and a real eye opener. I enjoyed the module “Addiction, Dependence and Deviance”, where we explored not only addictions which had obvious negative connotations (such as alcoholism) but also those which initially might not, such as exercise addiction.

I don’t think I would’ve secured the job I have now without having first completed the MSc.

Although my current position and the MSc might not seem obviously related at a first glance, there is an amazing amount of cross over and I learnt several things during the MSc which help me with my job today.  

The MSc modules in research and statistics were useful as I regularly undertake both qualitative and quantitative research. A large part of my job is talking to members of the public and the Office of National Statistic, so the skills in communicating, disseminating and leading seminars have proved invaluable. The MSc also allowed me to gain confidence in myself and my ability and gave me a renewed drive to progress in a psychology career. 


About my job

I am a Research Officer at the Office For National Statistics. I work in the Data Collection Methodology branch and I absolutely love it!

It’s very difficult to explain an average day as there isn’t one. My job basically involves developing government surveys so that they are effective and efficient at collecting quality data. Whilst this might sound straight forward, it isn’t!

I love the variation of the tasks I complete, there is always something new and interesting to do. 

My main project at the moment is developing an online version of the Labour Force Survey, a survey which collects data on a respondent’s economic activity status generally through a face to face interview. It is a challenging and fascinating topic which will inform work plans for the next few years and I am really enjoying getting my teeth into it! I am also currently working on the next Census questionnaire, which is very high profile and exciting.